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Budget deficits and real interest rates: a regime-switching reflection on Ricardian Equivalence

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  • Daniel Choi
  • Mark Holmes

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Abstract

This paper investigates the relevance of the Ricardian Equivalence theorem for the relationship between the budget deficit and real interest rate. In contrast to the existing literature, we focus on regime-change over a long study period and consider nonlinearities. Using a Markov regime-switching model applied to two centuries of annual data, we find evidence that the US economy switches between a Ricardian Equivalence regime, characterized by an insignificant relationship between the adjusted primary budget deficit and real long-term interest rate, and a regime characterized by the traditional view of a positive relationship. We also find evidence that the transition probabilities between regimes are time-varying insofar as a weaker level of economic activity, a lower real interest rate differential between the US and abroad, or higher national debts, is associated with a weaker relationship between budget deficits and interest rates. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Choi & Mark Holmes, 2014. "Budget deficits and real interest rates: a regime-switching reflection on Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 38(1), pages 71-83, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jecfin:v:38:y:2014:i:1:p:71-83
    DOI: 10.1007/s12197-011-9212-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barro, Robert J, 1989. "The Ricardian Approach to Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 37-54, Spring.
    2. Holmes, Mark J. & Maghrebi, Nabil, 2008. "Is there a connection between monetary unification and real economic integration? Evidence from regime-switching stationarity tests," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 958-970, October.
    3. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    4. Correia-Nunes, Jose & Stemitsiotis, Loukas, 1995. "Budget Deficit and Interest Rates: Is There a Link? International Evidence," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(4), pages 425-449, November.
    5. Richard Cebula & Pablo Cuellar, 2010. "Recent evidence on the impact of government budget deficits on the ex ante real interest rate yield on Moody’s Baa-rated corporate bonds," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 34(3), pages 301-307, July.
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    8. Evans, Paul, 1988. "Are Consumers Ricardian? Evidence for the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 983-1004, October.
    9. George W. Evans & Seppo Honkapohja & Kaushik Mitra, 2012. "Does Ricardian Equivalence Hold When Expectations Are Not Rational?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(7), pages 1259-1283, October.
    10. Abir Mandal & James Payne, 2007. "The long-run relationship between private and public savings: An empirical note," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 31(1), pages 99-103, March.
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    14. Mark Holmes, 2006. "To what extent are public savings offset by private savings in the OECD?," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 30(3), pages 285-296, September.
    15. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-384, March.
    16. Woon Gyu Choi & Michael B. Devereux, 2006. "Asymmetric Effects of Government Spending: Does the Level of Real Interest Rates Matter?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 53(si), pages 1-8.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ricardian Equivalence; Budget Deficit; Real Interest Rate; Regime-Switching; E6; H6; E0;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General

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